Holle Time Day 6: s(h)itting dog, dancing lady

I keep planning to tell you about the Atlas Profilax experience but things get in the way. Fun things!

So let me get the fun thing out of my system first, then I’ll jot down some fast things about my experience.

Frau Holle time for me means going with the flow. As long as I keep my rest schedule and manage to enjoy my social calendar I pretty much get to do what I want. All of the Grown Up Things To Do seam to be taking a back seat.

In stead of sewing up curtains for the three bare windows we have I find myself researching wool spinning colour theories and playing with roving. Those windows really need curtains! They’re single plated glass and the rooms are COLD! But no: colour study! Wool!

Instead of clearing the table where my husband spend his workdays and which I showed you yesterday I find myself bending shawl pins that I’ve been postphoning for ….oh…well…. 8 months now?

Luckily my husband has eye blinders for my clutter. They’re one of the pillars of our marriage.

But those pins, let me tell you!
As you know I’m handy with my hands. And I have a thing or two for letting things evolve in the moment, when it comes to art or design.

Now I haven’t been able to bend pins for over a year now because I want it too bad. There are a couple of people I want to bend pins for and this amount to such pressure -in my own head- that I’m unable to let things flow or enjoy the process. It’s the same reason I won’t knit for anybody nor make art for anybody. Or create things with the intention of selling them.

Yesterday Pippi was here! And we were sitting on the couch, chatting away, knitting. Pippi is the kind of person who doesn’t mind that I hadn’t removed the protective fleeces from the couch -because cats- nor that my hair is weird -because no time/energy to cut but have hat so there.

And it suddenly was there: that free time and free mind to bend some pins. I’m looking to make two pins for two friends who love dogs.

First one was a sketch. Second one was a success. Still a try-out.


Third one was a real one, in silver wire. Turned out ok. It still needs to be hammered down, this will give the wire character, more like a brushline with variation in thickness.


I was on a roll! I moved on the the fourth one. Oops!


This one looks more like it’s pooping…


I’m sure there are people who appreciate a pooping dog shawl pin. Just add a brown bead!


That’s when I rolled of the couch laughing, taking Pippi with me.

So there you have it. Holle time Day six is about poo and laughter.

Now: AtlasProfilax!

I briefly explained what it is. Reading back I don’t think I can explain it any better. But let me emphasize that in now way are the bones manipulated. All that is done is that the muscles keeping your head in place are nagged untill they relax a tiny little bit. In that split second the skull assumes its natural position, sitting comfortably and straight on the two little bone parts of that top vertebrea that are made for supporting the skull.

This is a shift of millimeters, you cannot see or feel it happening.

You can see and feel the results though. At the back of your ears, a bit downwards, left and right feel the exact same now, when you stroke and poke there with your fingers. That’s also where the muscles are located that the practitioner is harassing.


Only takes 5 minutes. 2 minutes prodding on one side, 2 minutes on the other and one again on the first site.

The prodding is done with a prod. A handheld little jack hammer (or that’s what it feels like). Yes, a monkey can hold the prod. But it takes a clever person to know where to prod exactly and to come up with the idea in the first place.

I found the treatment painful. Not extremely but it was quite annoying.

“Annoying” is also how my body experienced it. During the five minutes it started to panic a bit. My palms became sweaty and my body entered Fight or Flight, preferably the last one. I tried to talk it down, calm it, soothe it. It was like soothing a child while you overpower it so the doctor can give it a painful but well meant treatment. It wasn’t fun. But I overruled my body and submitted it to the treatment.

Five minutes over we sat on the chair for a bit, my body and me. We noticed no difference from before. My body grew extremely annoyed with me. It was positively insulted that I had submitted it to this uncomfort.

I’ve never experienced anything like this, it was like there are two entities in this body. Me and my body (which is also me ofcourse). I pleaded and apologized and mentally cuddled my body but it was having none of it.

I stood up, still no difference.

Then I stood with my toes on one of the lines of the floor tiles and I looked down. I could see the top of my breasts. They were facing forwards. This is novel.

I looked up and asked the practioner what he saw. “level shoulders” he said. This is new too.

Untill the treatment I was skewed. My left shoulder was in front of my body, my right behind. I compensated by holding my head tilted so I can look straight ahead.

My hips are not level either, usually. Right is about three centimeters higher.

I usually wear my shoulders around my ears, I’m that much stressed. This is also where my RSI comes from.

Five minutes later I was at the front desk, paying the man. There was an ache coming up in my back. Muscle ache. It grew and grew. My right shoulder too, man, it started to hurt.

My body was still insulted and wouldn’t talk to me so I figured it might be some kind of punishment. However, I didn’t have a vegetal reaction and there was no other pain or ailment. I felt comfortable leaving the building, walking down the street towards the busy Amsterdam street where the tram and the traffic and all the noise was. So I did.

While walking I felt freedom coming down on me. I felt so souple. I could turn my head all the way to the right (haven’t been able to for years). I could move my arms any way I wanted too. I felt so … tall. It was as if I was stretching without effort. I walked tall and proud. That’s why I decided to linger in the city and enjoy it. Also because movement would help the muscle ache which was now severe, all over my shoulders and upper back. And moving will help my body explore its new soupleness and possibities.

There was a bounce in my step.


Since then, two full days later, the muscle aches are diminishing. There’s only a bit left in my right shoulder. I’ve felt like dancing constantly. And have been doing so, in the kitchen. I naturally take on a straight position when I stand or sit. There’s no effort involved in this. My shoulders are level and I wear them low now.

Somehow my intestines have found a better nesting position in my pelvis. They don’t blob over it like they used to. I had a muscle ache in my buttock for which Robert had a probable explanation: my pelvis has naturally tilted. I’m “tucking my butt under”.

I’ve been out of the house every day since. First day I went to the organic farmer’s market. Haven’t been there for years! The noise and people, I could cope with. And again: I was walking tall. And hungry. I’m so hungry! But not for my usual foods. I crave fish and vegetables. So I bought two kinds of trout -my totem animal- and celery root and made myself dinner. Twice. Ate the lot of it too!

The other day me and Pippi went out to get sushi and I didn’t mind one bit to take a detour to get something at another shop too. Noise and people, where?

Now I’m getting down from my fluffy cloud I feel. The first honeymoon is over. Old habits and old postures are creeping back, I found myself wearing my shoulders for earmuffs again last night.

So now the working part of the treatment has started: I have to actively work on keeping my muscles loose and long. Having a nice posture. Not overeating.

Today I am going for a yoga lesson. Because yoga is specifically recommended for this treatment. As are massages but on these days right before x-mas I couldn’t find a masseuse.

Also: this is not a cure all. I still need my pills and hormones, I still need my rests. But boy, has there been a lift of body burden for me!

Last night I have slept through the night.


This week I entertain the thought that the body is a natural habitat for pathogens, just like any environment hosts critters. I have visions of a pond in the woods; the wild plains with big beasts and biofilms in the shower. All environments where there are conditions, food, critters trying to hold on, trying to survive, altering their environment, the environment altering them, other organisms hunting them. Why not the body too?

White blood cells are the predators of these critters. It’s that video I showed before that keeps popping up in my head. The hunted bacteria and the hunting blood cell are in their element, their environment, they know all the ins and outs and hiding spots, they are at home.

In systemic illnesses there’s an overburden and the environment is overwhelmed. Poisoned. It cannot function properly anymore. I’m thinking… medicine might be more like environment management than something else…


Sorry for the many words, few pics. Pics take time with me… Now I’ve gotta run, yoga starts in a bit. (I can run! yay!)



Designing: modern Woodland Art Deco Fair Isle Cardigan

I’m sharpening my teeth on an interesting design problem. It has to do with knitting but don’t fear, non-knitter, it has more to do with shapes and Art Deco patterns. I think you’ll like this post, even if I use knitwear to illustrate my design progress.

Fair Isle is the traditional knitwear from the Fair Isles off the coast of Scotland. It consists of stranded colourwork where in each row two colours are alternated every few stitches. Between rows the colours you use can change but not ín the row you are working on.

This is the typical traditional Fair Isle look:

picture from fairisle.org.uk, the site with all things about the island.

Modern interpretations play with colour and motives. Still clearly wit the stacking of horizontal bands and the use of two colours in any row.

Yfsnow’s Ivy League Vest by Eunny Jang and PoofyBirdy’s wonderful vegetable interpretation of the same design.

The geometric repetition in horizontal bands is part of the tradition. I’ll probably wander away from this a bit and technically I shouldn’t call it Fair Isle anymore. “Stranded knitting” would be better.
There’s also a rich tradition of stranded knitting in the north of Europe.

Having done with the introduction, let me now present you with the interesting design problem I am trying to solve. These are the constraints:

  1. each row has to have two colours at most. (otherwise: yarn spaghetti + not enough index fingers to keep them apart)
  2. one colour needs to be knit no more than 4 or 5 stitches at a time. (otherwise the other colour forms a long strand at the back of the work and you easily snag on it when you put on the garment. Also tension troubles.)

There. You’re now an expert on Fair Isle Theory. Now help me design a cardigan. Here are the goals:

  1. woodland themed
  2. no traditional Fair Isle motives, they are just too fiddly to my taste. And I don’t like geometrics much anyway.
  3. timeless design
  4. interesting colour contrasts, flattering to my mid-to-high contrast face

This is the yarn I have. Lovely 100% wool from a small spinning factory in Estonia. They’ve been in business for nearly a 100 years. That European region has rich knitting and yarn traditions. It’s lovely to support them.

Some of it is high contrast, some of it low. And I shouldn’t wear orange near my face.

I want squirrels. And owls. Hedgehogs. Oak leaves.
But I don’t want a childish cardigan. It has to be mature, adult and stylish. No ’80s teddy bear sweater. Or the famous x-mas sweaters:

Usually a Fair Isle pattern chooses one pattern and keeps repeating it all around the sweater. But you don’t have to. You can change the pattern depending on where you are in the sweater:

Saint Olav and His Men Cardigan (ravelry pattern page) by Cynthia Wasner. Not particular my style… but you get the idea.

You can use large overall patterns:

Rauma baby 054-5 by Rauma Designs
(this would look unflattering on a grown woman who has curves and who moves during the day)

Or you can use small shapes and scatter them around freestyle:

I like this, this is a fun way of knitting. (But this will mix the colours visually, dampening them both. Imagine a sweater full of these crawlies…it would be both tiresome and colourwise boring to look at.)

Another idea is to use some overall pattern and put different content in each slot.
pattern Squirrel Sweater for Baby (model 11) by Tone Takle and Lise Kolstad. This red knitting and the photo are by PhairIsle
(A whole sweater full of this is a childish but as an idea it works)

I like this design for overall structure:

Kyllene by Kirsten M. Jensen
It has some of that timeless style feel to it. I could easily fill some of the slots with a stylized squirrel instead of a stylized tree.
But a body full of diamond shapes…. I’m not convinced yet.

By now you’ve noticed I don’t want my cardigan to look very dated in a decade or two. No Bill Cosby sweater for me please. (hilarious site, with all the designs)

So I reckoned I’d look at the Art Deco era for inspiration, to find that overall structure. It provides stylistic interpretations of the highly recognizable (and thus dated) patterns of the Jugendstil/ Art Nouveau era. More on that later.

So I want a modern interpretation of the colour shapes you can make with this knitting technique. I love bolder shapes but the no-more-than-5-stitches-in-1-colour demands some serious designing inventiveness to make that happen. Like was done with that small cats pattern.
This is where my love for blockprinting comes in handy. Designing with only two colours and suggesting shapes and silhouettes using contrasts, without actually drawing lines, that’s all printing fun, baby!

Knitters join into this fun too:

Autumn Fire Mittens by Jouni Riihelä and Leena Riihelä. I have this very kit!

These are modern Finnish mitten designs by Riihivilla, a small one woman company, which sells yarn and mitten kits with yarn and pattern. All yarn is Finnsheep. All colours come from plants and fungi and Leena shares her knowledge and experience freely. These colours have much more depth then factory dyes. Visit her shop here: Riihivilla.

I love how the dark and the light colours are changed in horizontal bands while the overall design flows on, vertically. You see the trees even though the stem internally changes from the darkest to the lightest colour. There’s some cunning use of contrast going on here! Worth studying.

Another inspiration is this design by Angela McHardy from etsyshop Clovaknits:

She alternates the colours in broad bands and uses the background colours in smart ways. The coloured zigzags lie on top of the white background. But in the coloured bands it’s the black that lies on top.
I particularly like how the black ventures out a bit into the first white band that borders it, at the owl’s “toes”. This could be used more, letting the lines of the animal get into the second main colour. (My main colours are white and dark red brown. The other colours will be the accents.)
This is really intelligent stranded knitting design, I am wildly inspired by it! By the designing methods that is, the design of the cushion itself runs the risk of being dated in a couple of years I think.

When you google images for “art deco patterns” lots of horizontal organizes pattern pop up. Be it wall paper, decals or fabric. Waves, fans, circles, swirls. Enough that will hold a stylized squirrel in.

But I don’t want a stamp repeated all over the body of this cardigan. I think it doesn’t look good.What I want is an overall pattern with some variation in it.

I have found two nice examples of what I mean:

I think this one is by Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, a famous designer from the very era. He designed the YSL logo. I got the picture from c20thgraphicdesign

The other one I found is this one:
This is a bronze tile by Arizona Hot Dots

Both have a vertical alinement. With horizontal accents, placed randomly. These accents could be substituted for woodland creatures. Using the design habits from the owl cushion with the colours bands from Clovaknits. Alternating colours, mindfull of their contrast working, like the Autumn Fire Mittens from Riihivilla.

I’m thinking… and I haven’t even designed my version of a squirrel yet!